Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Portobello Road is a road in the Notting Hill district of West London, England. Portobello Road Market is one of the world's most famous markets, internationally renowned for its second-hand and antique sections. The market consistently ranks in the top ten most visited tourist sites in London.
Portobello Road's name derives from a popular victory during the War of Jenkins' Ear, when, in 1739, Admiral Edward Vernon captured the Spanish silver exporting town of what was then Puerto Bello in New Granada, (now known as Portobelo in modern-day Panama). Several commemorative names resulted from Vernon's victory, one of them being Portobello Farm in this area of London and, in turn, the lane leading to it which later became known as Portobello Road.
Portobello Road is very much a construct of the Victorian era. Before about 1850, it was little more than a country lane connecting Portobello Farm with Kensal Green in the north and what is today Notting Hill in the south. Much of it consisted of hayfields, orchards and other open land. The road ultimately took form piecemeal in the second half of the nineteenth century, nestling between the large new residential developments of Paddington and Notting Hill. Its shops and markets thrived on serving the wealthy inhabitants of the elegant crescents and terraces that sprang up around it, and its working class residents found employment in the immediate vicinity as construction workers, domestic servants, coachmen, messengers, tradesmen and costermongers. After the Hammersmith and City Railway line was completed in 1864, and Ladbroke Grove station opened, the northern end of Portobello Road was also developed, and the last of the open fields disappeared under brick and concrete.
Portobello Road today
Today, Portobello Road's distinctiveness does not just rely on its world-famous market. A wide range of communities inhabiting the street itself and the surrounding district contributes to a cosmopolitan and energetic atmosphere, as do the many restaurants and pubs. The architecture plays a part, too, as the road meanders and curves gracefully along most of its length, unlike the more formally planned layout of most of the nearby area. Mid- to late-Victorian terrace houses and shops predominate, squeezed tightly into the available space, adding intimacy and a pleasing scale to the streetscape.
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